Equal Danger Summary
by Leonardo Sciascia

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Equal Danger Summary

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

When the district attorney in charge of prosecuting an infamous murder case is himself assassinated one evening in May, the Minister of National Security assigns Inspector Rogas to the case. No sooner is he given charge than news arrives of the murder of another judge in a neighboring city. Besieged by questions of motive and character, Rogas begins to sift among possible explanations.

When yet a third official is gunned down, Rogas concludes that one man is responsible for all three murders. His conclusions lead him through a series of interrogations and interviews which form the heart of this short novel.

One suspect, the victim of wrongful imprisonment, is found sitting in the sun, reticent, stoic, seemingly indifferent to life. A second man, now a mechanic and also unjustly convicted, has become cynical and embittered, a helpless victim of “the system.”

Rogas’ investigations take a different direction when he is presented with an absurd tale about a pharmacist’s wife who has accused her husband, Cres, of trying to kill her with poisoned rice and chocolate. Discovering evidence that suggests that Mrs. Cres framed her husband, tricking the court system into putting him in prison while she ran around with other men, Rogas pursues the idea that Cres, recently released after serving five years, may now be taking revenge on those who convicted him.

Meanwhile, Cres has become invisible. Though Rogas learns something about the subject’s strange personality from one of the ex-pharmacist’s friends, Cres himself has somehow acquired a new identity, eluding even Rogas’ expert surveillance. Significantly, Rogas begins to develop a sympathy for his antagonist. Convinced of his guilt, he is determined to find him.

His determination is ironically thwarted, however, when a fourth murder convinces the Government that a left-wing revolutionary group is responsible for the murders. Rogas is pulled off the Cres case and given orders to work with his colleague in the political section, an assignment which he views as punishment for his zeal.

His first interview under this new line of investigation is to be with the editor of the notorious left-wing magazine Permanent Revolution. The editor, Galano, is the houseguest of a celebrated writer, Nocio, who has become disaffected with the sociopolitical establishment and has written a poem which underscores in seamy images the sterility and rankness of society.

Galano is evasive, but Rogas meets him finally at the house of a suspected neoanarchist. With them is a top Government Minister; the startled Minister orders Rogas to appear in his...

(The entire section is 655 words.)